Thursday, May 5, 2011

Galileo by Mitch Stokes

Galileo by Mitch Stokes is part of a series called "Christian Encounters" by Thomas Nelson Publishers. I wanted to read this book because, honestly, while his name is very popular, I am ashamed to say that I knew very little about Galileo. I knew that he had something to do with science or mathematics, but not exactly what he was famous for. I can't believe I am 37 years old and don't know these things.

For the most part, I have answers to who this man is after reading this book. He was a scientist and a mathematician of extraordinary order. He was one of the first inventors of the pendulum clock (32) and most notably the telescope (90). He is often referred to as the originator of modern day physics (47) and dealt with issues regarding motion. He was a keen observer of details and nature. In his last days, he went blind, which was really difficult for him, since his life had been built upon observations with his eyes (181). Much of his life seemed to be the defense of Copernicanism, which was the belief that the sun was at the center of the universe, not the earth. For the most part, this book helped me understand the man named Galileo and his contributions to our world.

However, the biggest issue for me is that while being published under the banner of "Christian Encounters," there was very little in this book to prove to me that Galileo was indeed a Christian. He grew up Catholic, which some will argue with me, are not what I think of when I think Christian. I do believe there are Catholics who are Christians, but not those who believe the teachings of Rome. Stokes does say towards the beginning of the book, "Galileo, we are surprised to hear, was a devout Christian, and his debate with theologians was an internal Catholic debate over the interpretation of Scripture" (3). But this debate had nothing to do with justification by faith, it had to do with how we reconcile science with the Scriptures. For instance, the main passage had to do with Joshua 10 when God caused the sun to stand still. Therefore the sun must be a moving object and the earth a stationary object. He denied this which brought about the problems with the Catholic church.

In dealing with his Christianity, there was no mention of Jesus or a personal relationship with Him by Galileo in this book. Worse yet, it was not just that Galileo was Catholic, he was Catholic during the anti-reformation. He was born in 1564 in Italy, which is just less than 50 years after the beginning of the reformation. There was no mention of joining the ranks of the reformers in regards to salvation. His only problem with the Catholic church had to do with science, or so the book details. For that reason alone, I am not sure I would recommend this book (or this man) as an example of a Christian to Encounter. The information of his life was insightful and interesting, but Christian? Not really.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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